A young couple (Ronald Hines, Colette Wilde) are house hunting. The next house they look at is called Orchard Cottage. The price on it is $2,500. The husband thinks it must be falling apart for it to sell for so little. When they see the house it looks in really good shape. The husband still doesn’t believe the price but they decide to look inside anyway. At the door the husband is having trouble with the key when it is opened from the inside. A woman is standing there. Thinking they have the wrong house they apologize. She assures them that they have the right house.
The young couple assumes she is some kind of housekeeper even though the house looks like it hasn’t been lived in for years. The couple looks the place over and finds that it is perfect for what they are looking for. They ask the woman why the place is selling so cheap. The woman says she doesn’t know why the house is selling for so little. She says many people have looked at it but there have been no takers. She says that it could be that no one has taken it because of the ghosts. The couple says they don’t believe in ghosts but they would like to hear the story about them. The woman begins her tale.
Originally it was a farm house. A man named Mark Lemming (Peter Dyneley) bought it. He was an electrical engineer who wired the house for electricity. He had lived there with his wife Stella (Jane Hylton). A friend named Clive (John Merivale) was there all the time. There were rumors that Stella and Clive were having an affair. No one was concerned when they went missing. It was assumed that they ran off together. Mark lived in the house by himself until, one day, he was found dead. He had electrocuted himself on one of his projects.
The house was then sold to Henry and Joan Trevor (Maurice Kaufmann, Nanette Newman). For awhile things were fine. Then creepy things began to happen with the electricity. Eventually they called in a psychic investigator name Burdon (Colin Gordon). He in turn brings in Mrs. Bucknall (Molly Urquhart). Mrs. Bucknall has a séance. During her trance she finds out what really happened to Stella and Clive and who or what is still in the house.
“House of Mystery” was released in 1961 and was directed by Vernon Sewell. It is a British supernatural mystery film and basically a quota quickie but a well done one. The film is done in the portmanteau anthology style with some hyperlink cinema undertones. It’s also a low budget film that makes the most use of a small cast and only a couple sets. The movie was based on the play “L’Angoisse” by Celia de Vilyars and Pierre Mills. The film aired in the U.S. as an episode of the TV series "Kraft Mystery Theatre".
This was a nice little spooky story. It’s sort of a story within a story or a flashback within a flashback. It’s compact but the plot is a nice little journey through the history of the house and why it’s still vacant creepy style. It unfolds like the kind of proper ghost story you hear around a campfire on a dark and still night. It’s less than an hour long but it is an engaging way to pass the time.
Many say that the general plot of the film is one that Sewell liked. A lot. It’s often compared to three other films that Sewell did with similar stories, “The Medium” 1934, “Latin Quarter” 1945 and “Ghost Ship” 1952.